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Mercury Cinema board announces new vision for the future

The new board of Mercury CX has announced its plan for a new era for the much-loved arts organisation.

At the organisation’s AGM this week, the board presented its strategy for the survival of independent cinema The Mercury and the development programs Mercury CX provides to emerging filmmakers, after the organisation was left in a financially precarious position in 2022.

Co-chair Peter Hanlon of Mess Productions said, “We’ve worked very hard with Mercury staff, members and industry stakeholders to develop a new business model and think beyond the typical income streams for arts organisations – which are philanthropy, sponsorship and grants.”

Mercury CX is a member-run organisation founded in the 1970s and it has a passionate membership base. The organisation has listened to its members and is inviting deeper engagement with the community through a ‘one-ticket, all-access’ subscription model.

The subscription provides unlimited access to standard film screenings, year-round access to workshops, upgraded production facilities and equipment, a monthly Script Club, regular networking and mentoring sessions and a creative screen culture community. All for just $25 per month.

Fellow co-chair Kirsty Stark of Epic Films said, “The Mercury has been an invaluable organisation for South Australian screen makers and cinema goers since its inception, and at the heart of the new business plan is the opportunity for a new generation of diverse audiences and creatives to connect in a vibrant screen hub in the heart of the city.”

From a screening perspective, the long tradition of the Silver Screen and Cinematheque programs will be expanded with new offerings including Heaps Good Cinema, a program of South Australian-made short films, and Cinema Mechanica, curated by local screen craft guilds, which will give audiences an insight into the mechanics of filmmaking through the selection of world-class movies that epitomise excellence in their craft.

Interim general manager Lisa Bishop says she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the Mercury: “We simply could not have developed this new business model without the support of the SA Government and Arts Minister Andrea Michaels, who has backed our vision with grants of over $200,000.”

Ms Bishop also thanked the generosity of philanthropists, whose contributions have enabled the Mercury team to turn underutilised office space into cutting-edge filmmaking facilities, including a writers’ room, production office, edit suite, mini studio, colour grading suite and sound editing and mixing theatre.

Also announced was that the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) will again provide $240,000 in project funding to deliver the QuickSilver, Launch Lab and Script Club programs for emerging filmmakers.

SAFC CEO Kate Croser said, “The SAFC is pleased to continue its partnership with The Mercury, providing funding to deliver programs and opportunities that support diverse, emerging practitioners to develop, advance and professionalise their careers in the screen industry.

“The SAFC has long been committed to improving diversity and inclusion in the South Australian screen sector and boosting industry participation of people from historically under-represented groups, through initiatives such as the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and First Nations Screen Strategy.

“In alignment with these strategies, and with the findings from the SAFC’s recently released South Australian Screen Industry Workforce Development Strategy, the SAFC supports The Mercury’s plans to work closely with emerging screen makers from a range of backgrounds to develop their skills and ensure businesses within the South Australian screen sector are equipped with a skilled workforce.” 

The Mercury’s new programs commence 1 July and will be outlined in an event named Mercury Rising to be held at the Mercury Cinema on Tuesday 27 June at 6pm.

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Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash